LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Little more than an hour after the Flintridge Prep softball team began Prep League play, it was hard to find a Rebel without an ear-to-ear grin.
One would have been even more hard-pressed to find a fashion in which Flintridge Prep could have begun its league season in a better way.
"This is a very emphatic victory for us — we're excited," Rebels Coach Julie Jaime said.
With Denise van der Goot at her best in the circle, the defense behind her flawless and an Alina Okamoto-led offense running roughshod around the bases, the Rebels opened league with an all-around impressive outing that came against its archrival and ended in an 11-1 mercy-rule win over visiting Pasadena Poly on Friday at Prep.
"It was a very nice win," said Jaime, whose team improved to 3-2 overall. "It's a great way for us to start [league]. We had a lot of different people do some good stuff, which was the fun part."
It began with van der Goot (3-0), who struck out 13 and allowed just one hit and no earned runs, and ended with pinch hitter Gina Crissman pushing across Jenna Galper for the fourth run of the fifth inning, eliciting the 10-run rule to conclude a contest that ran roughly just 70 minutes.
"We're feeling awesome," said Okamoto, who led the Rebels' nine-hit attack with a three-for-three performance against Poly (2-3, 0-1).
Okamoto began the scoring blitz with an opposite-field double to right, later coming home on a groundout by Sydney Golombeck, which began a three-run second that was keyed by a two-run single up the middle by Drew Montgomery.
"After a good play, the momentum swings," Okamoto said. "We definitely got our spirits lifted."
The Rebels would tack on four more runs in the third and another four-spot in the fifth to complete the hit parade.
"I have to give all our hitters credit," Okamoto said. "We all played a huge [part in] this game."
But the dominant effort began in the circle with van der Goot, who struck out the first six batters she faced before inducing a one-pitch groundout in the third and then striking out the next two batters on three pitches each.
"Obviously, Denise was amazing in the circle," Jaime said. "She's just a gamer. She's a great pitcher who's confident and has a great demeanor out there."
Van der Goot's only speed bump in an otherwise smooth ride from start to finish was the top of the fourth, in which she committed the Rebels' lone error of the game on a bunt up the middle and then allowed Poly's only hit on a double down the first-base line by Natalie Treister that cut the score to 7-1.
She then struck out the final four Panthers she faced after having begun the game by retiring the first 11 batters.
"My pitches were moving well," van der Goot said. "I was happy with the way it went."
In the bottom of the third, Abbey Deckop doubled in Marisa Wang to start another scoring surge that was continued by a bunt double from Okamoto, as she perfectly placed a bunt into the six-hole of an overplaying Panthers defense. It scored Deckop and Okamoto later scored on a double steal after Galper, who went two for two with four RBIs and a walk, singled in Chelsea Johnson.
"Alina definitely sparked us," said Jaime of the senior catcher, who had three runs and an RBI. "She just had a great game."
Galper delivered the biggest blow in the fifth with a bases-loaded double.
"I think it was a big confidence booster," said Okamoto, one of eight seniors on the roster. "It was great to beat Poly for the last time on our homefield."